Publications

2017
M. Harger, Li, D., Wang, Z., Dalby, K., Lagardere, L., Piquemal, J. P., Ponder, J., and Ren, P. Y., “Tinker-OpenMM: Absolute and Relative Alchemical Free Energies using AMOEBA on GPUs,” Journal of Computational Chemistry, vol. 38, pp. 2047-2055, 2017.Abstract
The capabilities of the polarizable force fields for alchemical free energy calculations have been limited by the high computational cost and complexity of the underlying potential energy functions. In this work, we present a GPU-based general alchemical free energy simulation platform for polarizable potential AMOEBA. Tinker-OpenMM, the OpenMM implementation of the AMOEBA simulation engine has been modified to enable both absolute and relative alchemical simulations on GPUs, which leads to a similar to 200-fold improvement in simulation speed over a single CPU core. We show that free energy values calculated using this platform agree with the results of Tinker simulations for the hydration of organic compounds and binding of host-guest systems within the statistical errors. In addition to absolute binding, we designed a relative alchemical approach for computing relative binding affinities of ligands to the same host, where a special path was applied to avoid numerical instability due to polarization between the different ligands that bind to the same site. This scheme is general and does not require ligands to have similar scaffolds. We show that relative hydration and binding free energy calculated using this approach match those computed from the absolute free energy approach. (C) 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
X. Han, Jing, Z. F., Wu, W., Zou, B., Peng, Z. L., Ren, P. Y., Wikramanayake, A., Lu, Z. M., and Leblanc, R. M., “Biocompatible and blood-brain barrier permeable carbon dots for inhibition of A beta fibrillation and toxicity, and BACE1 activity,” Nanoscale, vol. 9, pp. 12862-12866, 2017.Abstract
Amyloid-beta peptide (A beta) fibrillation is pathologically associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD), and this has resulted in the development of an A beta inhibitor which is essential for the treatment of AD. However, the design of potent agents which can target upstream secretases, inhibit A beta toxicity and aggregation, as well as cross the blood-brain barrier remains challenging. In, this research carbon dots for AD treatment were investigated in vitro using experimental and computational methods for the first time. The results presented here demonstrate a novel strategy for the discovery of novel antiamyloidogenic agents for AD treatments.
B. S. Wendel, He, C. F., Qu, M. J., Wu, D., Hernandez, S. M., Ma, K. Y., Liu, E. W., Xiao, J., Crompton, P. D., Pierce, S. K., Ren, P. Y., Chen, K. K., and Jiang, N., “Accurate immune repertoire sequencing reveals malaria infection driven antibody lineage diversification in young children,” Nature Communications, vol. 8, 2017.Abstract
Accurately measuring antibody repertoire sequence composition in a small amount of blood is challenging yet important for understanding repertoire responses to infection and vaccination. We develop molecular identifier clustering-based immune repertoire sequencing (MIDCIRS) and use it to study age-related antibody repertoire development and diversification before and during acute malaria in infants (<12 months old) and toddlers (12-47 months old) with 4-8ml of blood. Here, we show this accurate and high-coverage repertoire-sequencing method can use as few as 1000 naive B cells. Unexpectedly, we discover high levels of somatic hypermutation in infants as young as 3 months old. Antibody clonal lineage analysis reveals that somatic hypermutation levels are increased in both infants and toddlers upon infection, and memory B cells isolated from individuals who previously experienced malaria continue to induce somatic hypermutations upon malaria rechallenge. These results highlight the potential of antibody repertoire diversification in infants and toddlers.
C. Zhang, Bell, D., Harger, M., and Ren, P., “Polarizable Multipole-Based Force Field for Aromatic Molecules and Nucleobases,” J Chem Theory Comput, 2017.Abstract
Aromatic molecules with pi electrons are commonly involved in chemical and biological recognitions. For example, nucleobases play central roles in DNA/RNA structure and their interactions with proteins. The delocalization of the pi electrons is responsible for the high polarizability of aromatic molecules. In this work, the AMOEBA force field has been developed and applied to 5 regular nucleobases and 12 aromatic molecules. The permanent electrostatic energy is expressed as atomic multipole interactions between atom pairs, and many-body polarization is accounted for by mutually induced atomic dipoles. We have systematically investigated aromatic ring stacking and aromatic-water interactions for nucleobases and aromatic molecules, as well as base-base hydrogen-bonding pair interactions, all at various distances and orientations. van der Waals parameters were determined by comparison to the quantum mechanical interaction energy of these dimers and fine-tuned using condensed phase simulation. By comparing to quantum mechanical calculations, we show that the resulting classical potential is able to accurately describe molecular polarizability, molecular vibrational frequency, and dimer interaction energy of these aromatic systems. Condensed phase properties, including hydration free energy, liquid density, and heat of vaporization, are also in good overall agreement with experimental values. The structures of benzene liquid phase and benzene-water solution were also investigated by simulation and compared with experimental and PDB structure derived statistical results.
F. Aviat, Levitt, A., Stamm, B., Maday, Y., Ren, P., Ponder, J. W., Lagardere, L., and Piquemal, J. P., “Truncated Conjugate Gradient: An Optimal Strategy for the Analytical Evaluation of the Many-Body Polarization Energy and Forces in Molecular Simulations,” J Chem Theory Comput, vol. 13, pp. 180-190, 2017.Abstract
We introduce a new class of methods, denoted as Truncated Conjugate Gradient(TCG), to solve the many-body polarization energy and its associated forces in molecular simulations (i.e. molecular dynamics (MD) and Monte Carlo). The method consists in a fixed number of Conjugate Gradient (CG) iterations. TCG approaches provide a scalable solution to the polarization problem at a user-chosen cost and a corresponding optimal accuracy. The optimality of the CG-method guarantees that the number of the required matrix-vector products are reduced to a minimum compared to other iterative methods. This family of methods is non-empirical, fully adaptive, and provides analytical gradients, avoiding therefore any energy drift in MD as compared to popular iterative solvers. Besides speed, one great advantage of this class of approximate methods is that their accuracy is systematically improvable. Indeed, as the CG-method is a Krylov subspace method, the associated error is monotonically reduced at each iteration. On top of that, two improvements can be proposed at virtually no cost: (i) the use of preconditioners can be employed, which leads to the Truncated Preconditioned Conjugate Gradient (TPCG); (ii) since the residual of the final step of the CG-method is available, one additional Picard fixed point iteration ("peek"), equivalent to one step of Jacobi Over Relaxation (JOR) with relaxation parameter omega, can be made at almost no cost. This method is denoted by TCG-n(omega). Black-box adaptive methods to find good choices of omega are provided and discussed. Results show that TPCG-3(omega) is converged to high accuracy (a few kcal/mol) for various types of systems including proteins and highly charged systems at the fixed cost of four matrix-vector products: three CG iterations plus the initial CG descent direction. Alternatively, T(P)CG-2(omega) provides robust results at a reduced cost (three matrix-vector products) and offers new perspectives for long polarizable MD as a production algorithm. The T(P)CG-1(omega) level provides less accurate solutions for inhomogeneous systems, but its applicability to well-conditioned problems such as water is remarkable, with only two matrix-vector product evaluations.
C. Liu, Qi, R., Wang, Q., Piquemal, J. - P., and Ren, P., “Capturing Many-Body Interactions with Classical Dipole Induction Models,” Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation, vol. 13, pp. 2751–2761, 2017.
S. Deng, Wang, Q., and Ren, P., “Estimating and modeling charge transfer from the SAPT induction energy,” Journal of Computational Chemistry, 2017.
D. R. Bell, Cheng, S. Y., Salazar, H., and Ren, P., “Capturing RNA Folding Free Energy with Coarse-Grained Molecular Dynamics Simulations,” Scientific Reports, vol. 7, 2017.
R. Edupuganti, Taliaferro, J. M., Wang, Q., Xie, X., Cho, E. J., Vidhu, F., Ren, P., Anslyn, E. V., Bartholomeusz, C., and Dalby, K. N., “Discovery of a potent inhibitor of MELK that inhibits expression of the anti-apoptotic protein Mcl-1 and TNBC cell growth,” Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry, vol. 25, no. 9, pp. 2609-2616, 2017.
J. M. Obliosca, Cheng, S. Y., Chen, Y. - A., Llanos, M. F., Liu, Y. - L., Imphean, D. M., Bell, D., Petty, J. T., Ren, P., and Yeh, H. - C., “LNA Thymidine Monomer Enables Differentiation of the Four Single-Nucleotide Variants by Melting Temperature,” Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2017.
C. Liu, Qi, R., Wang, Q., Piquemal, J. - P., and Ren, P., “Capturing Many-Body Interactions with Classical Dipole Induction Models,” Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation, 2017.
2016
R. Qi, Wang, Q., and Ren, P., “General van der Waals potential for common organic molecules,” Bioorg Med ChemBioorg Med Chem, vol. 24, pp. 4911-4919, 2016.Abstract
This work presents a systematic development of a new van der Waals potential (vdW2016) for common organic molecules based on symmetry-adapted perturbation theory (SAPT) energy decomposition. The Buf-14-7 function, as well as Cubic-mean and Waldman-Hagler mixing rules were chosen given their best performance among other popular potentials. A database containing 39 organic molecules and 108 dimers was utilized to derive a general set of vdW parameters, which were further validated on nucleobase stacking systems and testing organic dimers. The vdW2016 potential is anticipated to significantly improve the accuracy and transferability of new generations of force fields for organic molecules.
C. Wang, Nguyen, P. H., Pham, K., Huynh, D., Le, T. B., Wang, H., Ren, P., and Luo, R., “Calculating protein-ligand binding affinities with MMPBSA: Method and error analysis,” J Comput Chem, vol. 37, pp. 2436-46, 2016.Abstract
Molecular Mechanics Poisson-Boltzmann Surface Area (MMPBSA) methods have become widely adopted in estimating protein-ligand binding affinities due to their efficiency and high correlation with experiment. Here different computational alternatives were investigated to assess their impact to the agreement of MMPBSA calculations with experiment. Seven receptor families with both high-quality crystal structures and binding affinities were selected. First the performance of nonpolar solvation models was studied and it was found that the modern approach that separately models hydrophobic and dispersion interactions dramatically reduces RMSD's of computed relative binding affinities. The numerical setup of the Poisson-Boltzmann methods was analyzed next. The data shows that the impact of grid spacing to the quality of MMPBSA calculations is small: the numerical error at the grid spacing of 0.5 A is already small enough to be negligible. The impact of different atomic radius sets and different molecular surface definitions was further analyzed and weak influences were found on the agreement with experiment. The influence of solute dielectric constant was also analyzed: a higher dielectric constant generally improves the overall agreement with experiment, especially for highly charged binding pockets. The data also showed that the converged simulations caused slight reduction in the agreement with experiment. Finally the direction of estimating absolute binding free energies was briefly explored. Upon correction of the binding-induced rearrangement free energy and the binding entropy lost, the errors in absolute binding affinities were also reduced dramatically when the modern nonpolar solvent model was used, although further developments were apparently necessary to further improve the MMPBSA methods. (c) 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
D. R. Bell, Qi, R., Jing, Z., Xiang, J. Y., Mejias, C., Schnieders, M. J., Ponder, J. W., and Ren, P., “Calculating binding free energies of host-guest systems using the AMOEBA polarizable force field,” Phys Chem Chem PhysPhys Chem Chem Phys, vol. 18, pp. 30261-30269, 2016.Abstract
Molecular recognition is of paramount interest in many applications. Here we investigate a series of host-guest systems previously used in the SAMPL4 blind challenge by using molecular simulations and the AMOEBA polarizable force field. The free energy results computed by Bennett's acceptance ratio (BAR) method using the AMOEBA polarizable force field ranked favorably among the entries submitted to the SAMPL4 host-guest competition [Muddana, et al., J. Comput.-Aided Mol. Des., 2014, 28, 305-317]. In this work we conduct an in-depth analysis of the AMOEBA force field host-guest binding thermodynamics by using both BAR and the orthogonal space random walk (OSRW) methods. The binding entropy-enthalpy contributions are analyzed for each host-guest system. For systems of inordinate binding entropy-enthalpy values, we further examine the hydrogen bonding patterns and configurational entropy contribution. The binding mechanism of this series of host-guest systems varies from ligand to ligand, driven by enthalpy and/or entropy changes. Convergence of BAR and OSRW binding free energy methods is discussed. Ultimately, this work illustrates the value of molecular modelling and advanced force fields for the exploration and interpretation of binding thermodynamics.
J. R. Houser, Busch, D. J., Bell, D. R., Li, B., Ren, P., and Stachowiak, J. C., “The impact of physiological crowding on the diffusivity of membrane bound proteins,” Soft MatterSoft Matter, vol. 12, pp. 2127-34, 2016.Abstract
Diffusion of transmembrane and peripheral membrane-bound proteins within the crowded cellular membrane environment is essential to diverse biological processes including cellular signaling, endocytosis, and motility. Nonetheless we presently lack a detailed understanding of the influence of physiological levels of crowding on membrane protein diffusion. Utilizing quantitative in vitro measurements, here we demonstrate that the diffusivities of membrane bound proteins follow a single linearly decreasing trend with increasing membrane coverage by proteins. This trend holds for homogenous protein populations across a range of protein sizes and for heterogeneous mixtures of proteins of different sizes, such that protein diffusivity is controlled by the total coverage of the surrounding membrane. These results demonstrate that steric exclusion within the crowded membrane environment can fundamentally limit the diffusive rate of proteins, regardless of their size. In cells this "speed limit" could be modulated by changes in local membrane coverage, providing a mechanism for tuning the rate of molecular interaction and assembly.
C. Narth, Lagardere, L., Polack, E., N Gresh, Q Wang,, Wang, Q., Bell, D. R., Rackers, J. A., Ponder, J. W., Ren, P. Y., and Piquemal, J. P., “Scalable improvement of SPME multipolar electrostatics in anisotropic polarizable molecular mechanics using a general short-range penetration correction up to quadrupoles,” J Comput ChemJ Comput Chem, vol. 37, pp. 494-506, 2016.Abstract
We propose a general coupling of the Smooth Particle Mesh Ewald SPME approach for distributed multipoles to a short-range charge penetration correction modifying the charge-charge, charge-dipole and charge-quadrupole energies. Such an approach significantly improves electrostatics when compared to ab initio values and has been calibrated on Symmetry-Adapted Perturbation Theory reference data. Various neutral molecular dimers have been tested and results on the complexes of mono- and divalent cations with a water ligand are also provided. Transferability of the correction is adressed in the context of the implementation of the AMOEBA and SIBFA polarizable force fields in the TINKER-HP software. As the choices of the multipolar distribution are discussed, conclusions are drawn for the future penetration-corrected polarizable force fields highlighting the mandatory need of non-spurious procedures for the obtention of well balanced and physically meaningful distributed moments. Finally, scalability and parallelism of the short-range corrected SPME approach are addressed, demonstrating that the damping function is computationally affordable and accurate for molecular dynamics simulations of complex bio- or bioinorganic systems in periodic boundary conditions.
J. A. Rackers, Wang, Q., Liu, C., Piquemal, J. P., Ren, P., and Ponder, J. W., “An optimized charge penetration model for use with the AMOEBA force field,” Phys Chem Chem PhysPhys Chem Chem Phys, vol. 19, pp. 276-291, 2016.Abstract
The principal challenge of using classical physics to model biomolecular interactions is capturing the nature of short-range interactions that drive biological processes from nucleic acid base stacking to protein-ligand binding. In particular most classical force fields suffer from an error in their electrostatic models that arises from an ability to account for the overlap between charge distributions occurring when molecules get close to each other, known as charge penetration. In this work we present a simple, physically motivated model for including charge penetration in the AMOEBA (Atomic Multipole Optimized Energetics for Biomolecular Applications) force field. With a function derived from the charge distribution of a hydrogen-like atom and a limited number of parameters, our charge penetration model dramatically improves the description of electrostatics at short range. On a database of 101 biomolecular dimers, the charge penetration model brings the error in the electrostatic interaction energy relative to the ab initio SAPT electrostatic interaction energy from 13.4 kcal mol-1 to 1.3 kcal mol-1. The model is shown not only to be robust and transferable for the AMOEBA model, but also physically meaningful as it universally improves the description of the electrostatic potential around a given molecule.
Z. Ren, Jiang, S., Zeng, Q., Ding, X., Bai, S., Wang, J., Luo, Y., Su, Z., Xuan, Y., Yao, B., Cisneros, F., and Zhang, K., “Effect of dietary canthaxanthin and 25-hydroxycholecalciferol supplementation on the performance of duck breeders under two different vitamin regimens,” J Anim Sci BiotechnolJ Anim Sci Biotechnol, vol. 7, pp. 2, 2016.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Dietary canthaxanthin (CX), 25-hydroxycholecalciferol (25-OH-D 3 ) and vitamins have been widely reported to be involved in productive and reproductive performance of broiler breeders. However, limited information is available for duck breeders. In this study, a total of 1,560 Cherry Valley SM3 duck breeder females and 312 males were used to assess if the addition of CX and 25-OH-D3 could increase the performance of duck breeders under two different dietary vitamin regimens. Four diets were used under a 2 x 2 factorial arrangement with 2 kinds of vitamin premixes (REGULAR and HIGH; HIGH premix had higher levels of all vitamins except K3 than REGULAR premix), and with or without the supplementation of the mixture of CX (6 mg/kg) and 25-OH-D3 (0.069 mg/kg). The ducks were fed ad libitum with pelleted diets based on corn-soybean meal from 38 to 77 wk of age. RESULTS: HIGH vitamin premix decreased malondialdehyde (MDA) level (P < 0.001) of egg yolk, increased hatchability of fertile eggs (P = 0.029), increased hatchability of total eggs (P = 0.029), and decreased serum protein carbonyl level (P = 0.037) of breeder males. The mixture of CX and 25-OH-D3 increased serum calcium of breeder females (P = 0.010), decreased the cracked egg rate (P = 0.001), increased the pigmentation of egg yolk (P < 0.001) and male bill (P < 0.001), and decreased MDA level of egg yolk (P < 0.001) and male serum (P = 0.034). Interactive effects were observed in cracked egg rate (P = 0.038), shell thickness (P = 0.011) and serum phosphorus (P = 0.026) of breeder females. HIGH vitamin premix together with the mixture of CX and 25-OH-D3 decreased cracked egg rate and increased shell thickness of duck breeders. Serum phosphorus was decreased in duck breeder females fed REGULAR vitamin premix without the addition of the CX and 25-OH-D3 mixture. CONCLUSIONS: Dietary HIGH vitamin premix increased antioxidant status of eggs and breeder males, and increased hatchability. The mixture of CX and 25-OH-D3 enhanced egg shell quality, and promoted pigmentation and antioxidant status of eggs and breeder males.
T. S. Kaoud, WH Johnson, P. A., ND Ebelt, M Warthaka,, Micael Cano, S. R., Q Wang, Pengyu Ren, R. G., and Dalby, K. N., “Covalent inhibition of ERK docking interactions,” The FASEB Journal, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 856.11-856.11, 2016.

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